ALL WORK AND NO PAY

I have a friend in a terrible situation at the moment, one that I've watched several friends and acquaintances go through over the past few years. Her company has stopped paying all of its employees. They were unable to meet the Feb. 1 or Feb. 15 payroll and, despite many promises and runarounds, there were no paychecks forthcoming on March 1 either. Being a practical person, I have advised her in the strongest possible terms to stop doing any work until paychecks are forthcoming. Yet she and the rest of the employees are still working. They're being threatened by their landlords and they don't have any groceries, but they're still working. Whenever I have a friend in this situation I am struck by the absurdity of the dilemma. How sad it is to realize that the American workforce is whipped enough to keep working even when it isn't getting paid. We have some misguided sense of obligation to our employers no matter how many times they reiterate how little obligation they feel toward us.

The contract between employee and employer, formal or otherwise, is simple: they pay us and we work. If we don't work they certainly aren't going to pay us. The inverse of that statement does not always hold, however. When one works for a smaller company, I understand that there is a stronger sense of, "Well if we all make a sacrifice now we can right the ship and then payroll will be back to normal. If we all quit, the company will definitely go under." That makes some sense. Up to a point. Inevitably, however, the reality of having bills to pay can no longer be ignored.

I would certainly like to think that I'm rational enough to refuse to work if I'm not being paid, but I've never been in a similar situation so I can't say with certainty how I'd react. If my friends are any indication I'd be showing up to work anyway, paycheck or no paycheck. How did we get like this? I mean, despite some aspects of this reaction being understandable, from a distance this looks like pure insanity. Battered Worker Syndrome at its finest. If our ancestors were brought here in a time machine and we tried to explain that sometimes Americans work without getting paid – either "off the clock" overtime or work in the complete absence of paychecks – they would return to their time convinced that people in the future are all insane.

Actually, not all of our ancestors. If we explained this to people from the late 19th/early 20th Centuries they could no doubt relate to it. This is precisely the kind of Gilded Era labor-capital relationship they would recognize. Thankfully that was followed by the Progressive Era and the growing recognition that, you know, human life and labor had some basic dignity worth recognizing and protecting. It took a long time, though, for that to sink it. It has taken almost as long – we're 31 years past the inauguration of St. Ronald – to beat that dignity back out of the workforce. If your employer stops paying you, show up to work anyway. Because your job is the most important thing in your life, and people who don't want to work (paycheck be damned!) are the lowest form of life. Leeches. Welfare queens. Bums. Criminals. The efforts at shaming the lazy, ungrateful American worker have succeeded so well that people are afraid to stop working even when their landlords are threatening eviction. The labor-management power imbalance is so severe that we don't even seem capable of standing up to our employers to say, "Uh, I'm not coming in tomorrow if I don't get paid."

That sounds like an eminently reasonable request, and in a reasonable world any employer would understand that the employees are not going to work (or be expected to work) without compensation. Here in the land of the unreasonable, we get pep talks about pitching in to help out The Team and guilt about failing to work regardless of the circumstances.

I don't know. I took a Friedmanesque approach here, basing this on anecdotal evidence from people I know. Maybe my friends are atypical and weird. I have the sneaking feeling, however, that this sort of "take one for the team" attitude (and expectation) is common given the general reverence with which The Bosses are treated in our society. That said, feel free to restore my faith in humanity by telling me I'm crazy and this doesn't really happen. Reassure me that American labor has enough backbone and common sense to stop working when the paychecks stop coming.

69 thoughts on “ALL WORK AND NO PAY”

  • Unfortunately I don't think I can increase your hope, even in the "Land of the Long Weekend" St. Ronnie's economic theories have had broad impacts. We've been hit w offshoring anything and everything. Recently they put some train carriages on a ship and sent them to China for repairs. "You know, it's well cheaper. Perhaps we need to address the issue of high wages in Australia." Pehaps we should address the issues of what's being taught in business courses. I'm sure we can get the engineering department to build some guillotines, and test them outside the Schools of Economics.

    So yeah, I work for an abusive anal-pore, who's bipolar and suffers from drug induced delusional paranoia. It still beats unemployment. However, the channels are still strong for recourse here.

  • I recently told my former boss he was worthless and to leave me the fuck alone. At a subsequent meeting with his supervisor and an HR snatch, I told the HR snatch that I did not care if she fired me: she did. I proceeded to get up and stand above her menacingly, told her fuck you, and flipped her off until she left the room. She literally sat there in shock for 5 seconds because she probably couldn't believe that somebody didn't care if they got fired or had the audacity to stand up to a "superior". The snatch also left the room because I was physically much stronger than her and she couldn't handle me: she had to go get a guy to escort me out. Right before I left that hell hole for good, I got up in the guy's face, saluted him, and stared at him until he looked away.

    You're correct: jobs are like relationships. If you aren't getting anything out of it, you need to get out and find another one. I don't care how shitty the economy is: life is too short. It can be terrifying, but economic reality can be terrifying. Your friend may be able to get unemployment benefits. I believe you can get a lawyer or talk to the government about wage reclamation: maybe it won't work. But, it is more productive than working without being paid.

  • Johanobesus says:

    One factor is anxiety over future employability. Your friends might be weighing the cost of working for free with the cost of a big blank space on their résumés. In fact, some companies actually won't hire someone who isn't currently employed somewhere else. In this job market, it might be more rational to keep a non-paying job while looking for other work than to officially join the unemployed.

  • I think, Johanobesus, that you have bought up a very good point. Perhaps the best way may be to go to work, but obviously not work when you get there…

  • There are generally parts of the state government dedicated to dealing with issues just like this. In Oregon it's the Bureau of Labor & Industry, though it may be something different where your friends are at. Your friends should be able to get some help there.

    I found myself in a similar situation to your friends when I was a senior in college. My employer refused to pay me and the other people on his payroll, so we all told him that we wouldn't come back to work until he paid us what we were owed. He refused to pay up, so we went to the Bureau of Labor & Industry and it turned out that we wouldn't even have to take the guy to court: The Bureau had a fund of money dedicated solely to paying people the money they were owed even if the employer wouldn't pay up.

    I don't know if it works out exactly the same where your friends are at, but it's definitely worth a try.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    My wife is German, and she has a very strong cultural attitude towards work, which is as follows: fuck your employer. Stand up to your boss, get your way, or fuck him and quit. Whenever she percieves me as being too obsequeous to my employer, she calls me out on it, telling me to stand up for myself.

    Here's the thing, though. She grew up in Germany, where "at will employment" is a completely foreign concept. In Germany, you CAN stand up to your employer, because 1. He can't fire you easily even if you richly deserve it and 2. If you DO lose your job, unemployment will cover your rent and living expenses essentially in perpetuity until you find a job you actually WANT to do.

    In the US, if you stand up to your employer, you'll be out of a job, out of a home, and out of society in shockingly quick succession. A worker's capacity to put up with their employer's bullshit it inversely proportional to their power in the relationship, and at the moment, in the US, the worker is helpless.

    Now, the idea that this represents the proper moral order of the universe is a special variety of slave mentality that I'm still at a loss to explain.

  • Shit. Apologies for the inadvertent double post. Slipped up and hit the "Submit" button before I intended to.

  • Hey Mark, what is the problem? Here's your chance to engage in a constructive debate rather than a character attack.

  • If you work, you *might* get paid.
    If you don't work, you sure as hell will not be paid.
    If you quit, you may not have a great case to be awarded unemployment. It depends on the state.
    If you quit, at least without another job lined up, you have given up hope. Jobs don't grow on trees.

    Part of it depends on the size of the employer, how much you are certain of (did your employer get screwed over by a debtor?) and how much faith you have in your employer (and their ability to stay solvent.)

    Each person is in business for himself, when it comes down to it, and jobs aren't falling off trees as they were during the Clinton years. Saying, "Hey, they have no right to expect you to work for nothing!" is pointing out the obvious, but it can be a practical choice to do so…for a while. Starving for your principles is great for single people with no children; for others, not so much.

  • Starving for your principles or basically being a slave with no dignity and being held hostage for reproducing: decisions, decisions.

  • Sadly, Johanobesus is a bit correct.

    Employers do look at current employment as a holy grail for hiring someone. I was unfortunate enough at my last job to get fired in a rash of firings due to the fact that a new district manager took it upon himself to fire all of the managers at my location one after the other, because we he wasn't happy with our sales. The fact that our sales were improving every month and that we were outperforming the local market was irrelevant. We weren't meeting ambitious company goals to drastically INCREASE sales during the middle of a recession!

    Unlike the other managers I worked with, I was fortunate enough to be able to make a decent case for unemployment despite being fired.

    However, I've now been out of work for 6 months and things are not looking good AT ALL… I have been applying to one job after another, and haven't gotten a single response from anyone.

    Hiring managers/HR who use the fact that you're currently unemployed as a sign of moral weakness, in this economy, should be lined up and shot.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    The larger capitalist world has been taught the merits of the owners and the demerits of the workers. Some European countries, e.g. Germany, have maintained a decent amount of respect for worker, unions and human dignity. These countries, however, tend today to lean towards reducing the safety net, workers' rights while maintaining the superiority of the banks. Look at what happens to Greece, Ireland and Iceland. Citizens in these countries are supposed to suffer to help maintain foreign banks profits. The Germans don't see any problem with that picture.

    I don't see a solution to workers duties and owner lack of any time soon. Chairs and ropes, however, may cause vast improvements.

  • Spiffy McBang says:

    Chris, if Mark's reacting to the same thing I did, it's that you sound like a bully, a misogynist, and a complete asshole. I really hope "Chris" is short for Christine or similar, because if you're a guy, bragging about how you scared the fuck out of the woman in HR by being physically imposing until she needed another guy to escort you out pretty much nominates you for Douche of the Year.

  • I can understand hanging around a bit if the premise is this is a brief disruption with a readily discernible end, but any situation other than that it seems foolish. Not being able to make payroll once is a bad sign, and any business that makes a habit of it doesn't sound like a going concern.

    I don't think I've personally known anyone who has just decided to stand by any outfit that doomed. When the company I used to work for was going under, there were plenty of people game to stick around as long as the checks cleared, but only as long as that was the case (as far as I know, no paychecks were bounced and management tried to wind things down as best they could.)

    The only people I personally know who found themselves working unpaid were restaurant staff who worked at places that folded without warning. But that's not quite the same sort of thing.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Chris (aka – asshole_,
    What "Spiffy McBang Says" said!

    And yeah, nowadays, the last thing you want is a hole in your resume.

    Your friend, Ed, under these circumstances, should go to work, and spend all of the time there using the tools at the office (PC, copiers, FAX machines) to look for a new job.

  • I was going to remark that I'd seen smaller companies pull the "we can't pay you" (often while the owner of the company was buying season box-seats at the local sports palace), but I once worked for a huge, national company that expected its employees to regularly work 10 – 20 hours of unpaid overtime a week to show "team spirit", woth 10 hours being rated 'average' and 20 hours 'promotable'. I did the math and realized I'd come out ahead getting a second job.

  • Any psych trained people wanna help here?

    How about the fact that most employees get paid significantly after the service has been rendered. So, if you get paid monthly, the 'system' is already into you for a month anyway. The stimulus – response curve has a significant lag in it, doesn't it?

    Maybe, it could be looked at as an 'investment' protection strategy combined with some wishful thinking "Well, they got me for a month, – just hang on here for a little bit longer and the ship will get righted…"

    //bb

  • My mom is a registered nurse, and there's an issue at her workplace where the full-time nurses are getting shorted on hours (Mom works part-time). Florida is a "right-to-work" state, but despite the efforts of Skeletor (uh, Governor Scott) and Bo(eh)ner/McConnell & Co., I'm fairly sure we're still subject to wage and hour laws. I just hope these nurses are getting their timesheets in writing and documenting their other grievances, especially since there are rumblings of walkouts. We lose our rights when we don't exercise them.

    @bb: Hey, that's a great point! Of course, I always thought the lag time was supposed to be a week or two, but maybe our illustrious author should tell his friend that her employer is implementing a strategy wherein she and her co-workers will be paid, in the future, for work they did the previous year, and all they have to do is have faith that their employers will come through. Thanks! (/sarcasm)

  • Truly unfair, but for some people, showing up = professional networking, internet access, fax machines, copiers, and paper, all items that assist in the search for a new job. Many people may have all this without going to an unpaid job, but for those who don't, it could make a big difference in a job search. Any ethical issues of using these resources at the employer's expense, I think, is more that offset by the 'you aren't getting paid' issue.

    I would wonder, though, if the company can't make payroll, how long will it be before they can't pay for utilities, materials, essential services, etc. I would see this as an excellent time to reorganize my desk and perhaps relocate any personal or essential items/information to my home. Just sayin'…

  • HoosierPoli, regarding the Germans' respect of workers' rights versus their squeezing of the Greek economy: in most cases the Germans are sympathetic towards the ordinary worker. However, those in Greece have committed two major moral failings in the eyes of Germany. The first is not being German. This is forgivable under some circumstances. The second is being Greek – this is never acceptable.

  • The first obligation of an employer is to pay the employees. That should be before any other expense. This is not just state law, it's part of the federal labor laws. If an employee isn't getting paid, they can sign up for unemployment and get the state to go after the employer for unpaid wages.

    I've gotten some strange looks from management when they've said the thing about "employment at will" and I've said, "That works both ways. You may be able to fire me, but I can quit any time I want too." Some of them can't comprehend that concept.

  • @Anonymouse: me too, on both counts. But I've also had mom-and-pop clients who lost everything after a few bad months. It takes very little — a large contract falls through, everyone knows; people you owe demand immediate payment, while people who owe you decline to pay since you'll be out of business soon anyway. If you have faith that the company will not fail and will pay you (and is prepared to sell its box seats rather than buy more), it can be worth the risk.

    @Chris: "Starving for your principles or basically being a slave with no dignity and being held hostage for reproducing: decisions, decisions."

    Yep, exactly. Because childless folks still need to pay the rent, but if they quit, they are only affecting themselves. Parents do have harder choices to make. They need to consider the best interests of their minor charges, who can't get jobs or otherwise protect themselves from the poor choices of irresponsible parental fuckwits.

    Especially the kind who refer to women as "snatch." I do hope you are not raising any children, male or female. You think the employed have few options or rights? Children have nearly none.

  • Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    I currently work for a small company– a VERY small company– and we've had situations where there wasn't money to meet payroll.

    Our owners– the PhD. who started the place and his wife– are NOT living large; they have a nice house in the suburbs but it's no mcmansion; the boss has a nice Mercedes S-class– an 11-year-old S-class, but still– and his wife drives a 3 year old Smart.

    We're kinda like family in that way… so here, if there's no money for payroll, we all believe that there truly is no money for payroll and that somehow we all WILL get paid. And every time (knock wood so far) we have.

    My last boss (who fired me and most of the other black people in the company during the big downturn) could just suck a donkey dick. I'd still like to kneecap that tall white son-of-a-bitch. Gods help him if I'm ever diagnosed with a terminal illness, y'knowhuttameen?

  • Your friends need to run, not walk, to the nearest state unemployment office. The first obligation of an employer is to meet payroll. Having paychecks bounce or not getting paid for work is the one situation where an employee can do a voluntary termination (quit) and it's considered justified. If they quit because they're not getting paid, they will qualify for unemployment insurance.

    I speak from personal experience on this issue. I once worked for a company where the owner decided he'd rather put the company assets up his nose than meet payroll. Paychecks bounced; half a dozen of us walked off the job and into the state employment office to file unemployment claims. The employer tried to deny the claims; the unemployment referee told him where to shove it. As soon as an employer stops paying employees, they have no obligation to remain on the job.

    Why anyone would want to keep working at a job where they're so visibly getting fucked is a mystery, but if they want to be volunteers instead of employees, that's their prerogative.

  • I have been saying forever that if teachers would stick to their contractual hours and not grade papers/tutor/coach/do anything outside of those hours without a stipend or additional hourly pay then perhaps we could have moved teacher salaries higher by now. But any mention of contracts or hours or pay brings amazed stares and statements like "You must not care about THE CHILDREN!" So teachers keep on keepin' on, grumbling about how they work from 7am to 6 or 7pm teaching, grading, taking work home, e-mailing parents, planning lessons, etc. Our society seems to have accepted this as "the life of a teacher" instead of something that is ridiculous.

    Getting teachers to change is very difficult, because they have also bought in to the idea that if they do any less then people will think that they don't "care" and so they will lose their job to someone who will work twice as much as they are contractually obligated for the same pay. It may be their prerogative to do so, or they may be reacting to the pressure of guilt from their community, but in the end those who agree to volunteer to work hurt those of us that actually need to work for a living, whether we "care" or not.

  • One of my bestest friends "took one for the team" for years in a job. I never understood it other than his claim that he liked the work which was an acceptable response. But the stress and aggravation that went along with not being able to budget beyond a week was too much to ask of an employee in my opinion. Personally, I tend to go in the opposite direction. I tend to go overboard in telling my employers and/or managers to completely phuck off whenever they're not measuring up. Most managers are so very awful so this type of combative approach is warranted but I've found that a hair trigger response to managerial ineptitude does not always work in ones favor from a career advancement standpoint. There is a middle ground. But, if I wasn't getting paid, I'd be outta there soonest.

    I

  • Sock or Muffin? says:

    Young and naive at my first 'professional' job, which was a dot.com. They got around the not paying and people leaving by offering us stock options deducted from our checks. The smallest deduction was 10% which is what I took but you could deduct 100% of your check. Promises made every month 'next month we're going public'… then 2 more people let go. Then checks started bouncing, then I got laid off. Didn't even think to go to unemployment for being underpaid and still working.

    And y'all lay off Chris a little. Sure he may have gone overboard but we've been conditioned to just sit there and take a layoff like it's inevitable. My current employer just let someone go who had been here 26 years. 26 years and just "Hey sorry we have to let you go. Oh and stay for two weeks to show someone how your job works."

    Slocum is right too.

  • I’ve learned that in a small business environment the owner’s ego is so tied up in the financial health and future of the company that they are often unable to see the harm that their actions are causing their employees in the present. In my opinion, it is extreme self-absorption and selfishness. As long as the employee enters into the relationship knowing that they are working for someone whose professional actions are going to be similar to that of an alcoholic (ie, lying, deception, manipulation, false-promises and assurances) then the same employee should know when to dissolve the relationship when it’s not working for them. Running a company is an addiction for many business owners. Employees would be wise to understand that they are basically working for addicts.

  • How many people say they would keep working if they won the lottery? Hell the whole concept of 'work ethic' was to keep the peasants self-policing. It's ingrained in the culture, but it's a whole lot larger and older than just this country. Heck, people think 'socialism' and 'communism' are evil, and that's just trying to redistribute profits to the people working for them.

  • Robert Savage says:

    Of the many reasons why corporations/capitalists/small businesses/job creators abhor unions is that the contract dictates terms and conditions, like what will my pay be by contract, when will I get paid, what my rights are. The situation described above is a natural consequence of the decline of organized labor. When we deal with our employers on our own we have no leverage. They have all the power, even the power not to pay us for services rendered. They are not above suggesting that we sacrifice and suggest either explicitly or otherwise that we are selfish to not do so. When they decide they no longer want our services they summarily dismiss us and evoke the rage that Chris so forcefully described. This battle between capital and labor has a long and tortured history with labor almost always on the defensive. ORGANIZE.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    Jimcat: The protections for German workers are hard-won statutory regulations, not special gifts by the German government to the Master Race. As far as the Greek thing goes, German banks are a massive vested interest, but Germans are also terrified of even healthy inflation.

  • anotherbozo says:

    I wish Ed had provided a few details re: the employees' response to being stiffed. Did they organize themselves and ask for an explanation? Was the (presumably) printed sheet furnished them in lieu of paychecks articulate enough with the particular bind the company was in (I can imagine the mealy-mouthed euphemistic crap most businesses would feed their employees in this case)? Did it provide details? I'd think that a meeting would have been in order the at the first default: if the staff was too large to make it a general meeting, then representatives should have insisted on a meeting with the owners/managers to learn particulars. If unionized… well, the route would be obvious.

    There's gotta be strength in numbers in a case like this…

  • If you like your job, and feel that the boss is mostly telling you the truth about a temporary crunch, the sad truth is that is is easier to keep working in the hope that you'll be paid eventually, than to quit and be sure of unemployment. The other options are limited:

    In one job that got weeks behind on payroll, I tried honestly telling my boss that I needed to take a temp job but would gladly come back when they could pay me, he promised to, and then hired someone else (and then went out of business).

    In another the owners were only ever a few days behind on payroll, but they shuttered the place without warning and skipped town with the last two weeks pay.

    A good friend of mine worked for a restauranteur with a drug problem, who frequently fell behind on payroll. The staff organized a walkout, he revealed he'd been paying them under the table all along (pocketing their tax withholdings) and fired everyone. The dept of labor shrugged, no one could afford a lawyer, and all the employees gave up and found new jobs STAT. The restaurant went under soon enough anyway.

    If I were to find myself in the working-for-free situation again, I probably would stick it out in the hopes of extracting my last paycheck, while frenetically applying for new jobs. I suppose there might be businesses out there that really do pull out of a tailspin, but in my experience, missed payroll is always the beginning of the end. Either business is so bad already that there's not much hope, or else your employers see paying you as a regrettable hassle. A strike could clarify the latter situation, but the kind of boss who is willing to withhold wages you've already earned because they feel they need the money more is also likely to, say, refuse to give references, lie to keep you from getting unemployment, and so on. It's a terrible place to be, and I understand why people would just keep working and hope the whole problem just goes away, even as that makes the big picture worse.

  • duverger's outlaw says:

    Another psychological possibility is that workers often have more scruples about acting in a self-interested manner than do employers/owners of the means of production (this could be attributed to power asymmetries also). for "example a recent study conducted at cal-berkley found that the "rich" are much more selfish and much less likey to consider the interests of others than the "poor." A web search should bring up the press release. The same could be true of many of the employer-employee relations described here.

  • @Chris

    She literally sat there in shock for 5 seconds because she probably couldn't believe that somebody didn't care if they got fired or had the audacity to stand up to a "superior".

    It's less likely that she was marvelling at your chutzpah, and more likely that she was taking a moment to try to work out if she was about to be punched in the face.

    You sound like a glorious human being.

  • What people have accused me of is a logical fallacy. Because I think "one" woman is a snatch doesn't mean I think "all" women are a snatch. I was talking about a soulless member of management that didn't hesitate to put somebody on the street: she doesn't qualify as a woman/member of humanity. Also, she felt the need to exert power over me in the workplace when I had absolutely none: I think it is only fair that I "showed" that I had physical power over her (no, I don't believe in physical violence towards women, so don't accuse me). And, in my job exit, I think I was an equal opportunity asshole to both genders, both of which were deserving.

    In my other post, I was merely trying to reflect what Ed was getting at in his post, which was how shitty things are for workers in the economy. Often times, your only options are to stick it out in a shit job (especially if you have kids) or show some dignity and quit and starve. You are penalized for claiming some semblance of dignity or reproducing.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    If you really think you can help turn the company around so that you'll be paid all your back wages, by all means, keep working, but if not, your time could be better spent looking for new employment. I'd still talk to the state labor department, as not paying wages is often a criminal offense.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    Even a heartless corporate drone doesn't deserve to be called a "snatch." Ever. And threatening someone with physical violence is not much better than actually carrying through on that threat.

  • What about men? Is it not ok to call one a dick?

    It is ok for members of management to have complete power over you, and it is not ok for workers to show any semblance of power?

  • Not a great idea threatening physical violence, even if it might give you a certain amount of satisfaction at the time.

    Let's suppose someone had called your bluff and you'd followed through in the heat of the moment.

    NOW you're looking at an assault charge plus possible jail time, court costs that you probably can't afford, and maybe a large fine that you can't afford.

    Now you may have been the toughest guy in that room but you're probably not the toughest guy in the county lockup. Not a good place to be.

    Definitely not the best way to start your job search.

  • anotherbozo says:

    @ Chris:

    What about men? Is it not ok to call one a dick?

    Of course. But for women, even bitch isn't OK, not yet, the playing field isn't level yet. Maybe "snatch" is even more sexist than bitch, CTTOI. I'd go with sexless encomiums like sleazeball, fungus, microbe, idiot, martinet, pustule, steaming turd, etc. Be creative.

  • @Chris: you didn't refer to her as a corporate drone, an evil overlord, or a soulless management thug; you didn't even call her a c*nt, which at least has a history of general use and application to men as well. Most bothersome, from a shrink perspective, was that you didn't say she was "being a (something)", or "acting like a (something)", but identified her as "snatch", period. It's strictly limiting her existence to pussy. FYI: it's a big danger sign.

    And you may have sincerely felt that you don't believe in physical violence toward women, but how was she supposed to know? She wasn't — she was supposed to feel physically unsafe and afraid and dominated by you. Which is the same intent as the physical violence against women you say you don't believe in.

    The physical pecking order behaviors that men apply to each other, for better or worse, almost never apply between men and women. Almost all women are weaker than almost all men, and men have no need to establish physical superiority. Yet nearly all the violence against women is committed by men. These facts change the context of dominance behavior directed at women. It sounds as if you don't know that, but it's true.

    I say all this to point out that you need to examine your motives and your impulses, as well as your justifications for them. It's wrong for reasons that have nothing to do with inflexible PC pissiness. You sounded sincere, and my advice to get help is also sincere.

  • If I don't work, I don't get paid.

    It works both ways.

    If I don't get paid, I don't work.

    You only have as much loyalty to your employer as your employer has to you. I make this very clear from the outset of each job I apply for. I am a professional performing a service for a fee; the moment that fee stops being paid, the service stops being rendered.

    In this day and age it is absolutely critical that the worker maintains equal power in the relationship. I refuse to work for anyone that believes they have some sort of right to my labor that exceeds my right to be compensated for it. Being a single male with no children and little financial stress, I have the power and leverage to be able to do this — unfortunately, not everyone does. People with families to consider aren't in a position to tell their employer to suck wind when the paychecks stop coming, because they need that reference or that gap-less work history on the resume for the NEXT job.

    That should not be the way things work.

    Once upon a time, this nation had a concept of unionized labor. Contrary to the popular Republican belief that unions are just ways for slackers to get paid lavish salaries, the base function of a union is to ensure that the employers do not have the power and leverage necessary to screw the workers. We need to get this nation back to a state where it understands that.

  • I'm glad you feel that you can sum up my life based on a single web site post based on a single instance of my life: once again, a logical fallacy of overgeneralization (you actually committed it multiple times). Your argument has a lot of passion for evidence as well, which is also a logical fallacy.

    I've learned something today: equality in the workplace is less important to some women than gender equality.

    I'm glad we are all basically slaves and we're discussing the merits of slang terms for genitals: see you all out in the fields.

  • I've learned something today: equality in the workplace is less important to some women than gender equality.

    If it doesn't include women, it isn't equality.

  • It took decades of struggle during the progressive era to bring about some semblance of dignity for the American worker – it's going to take decades to reclaim it, once we get around to starting that project. I was hopeful that the economic crisis would dispel the willful amnesia of the American working class, but I was dead ass wrong.

    Let me paint a picture of the future for you: This economic downturn is but one of many to come. It will not be the worst. The firewall between commercial and investment banking has not been restored, and thus we can expect an ever-escalating series of bubbles, bank runs, and depressions. This will probably culminate in a "Really Fucking Big" depression, in which the rank desperation of the masses will be exploited by cynical psychopaths corrupted by nationalistic, racist and bloodthirsty ideologies. This will lead inevitably to catastrophic war.

    Sometime during the run up to the war, that's when the fight for the working class will begin again. Afterwards, a generation raised in squalor and tempered by bloodshed will cement those gains in place, not because they love suckling the government teat, but because they recognize that desperation leads to madness and mass desperation leads to mass madness. Then we will have power in the workplace again…

    … for a few decades, because the kids of this "bestest" generation will be selfish assholes, take LSD and fuck and pretend it's a social movement, then grow up to tear it all down in the name of the "freedom" to think only of yourself.

    Fuck the boomers. ;)

  • @Chris:
    I don't think anyone was "sum[ming] up your life" based on anything, or positing that any one sort of equality is more important than another.

    Someone just pointed out that you weakened your position with your obvious glee at physically menacing a woman, and explained why it bothered her.

    I can agree with Ron Paul's views on the drug war while at the same time distancing myself from a guy whose words indicate that he's a hateful POS in other regards.

    Quit while you're ahead, Tyler Durden.

  • @Chris

    I didn't mean to sound like I was putting you down.

    A friend of mine had pretty much the scenario I described happen to his son.

    As he described it to me he said "It turns that after you get out of grade-school, being the biggest guy in the room isn't quite the advantage you thought it was".

  • @chris
    War makes all of us do crazy things at times. This is an economic war. For now.

    Everyone needs to realize that it is a war. On the workers. On the underclass. On the powerless.

    I have a union construction job, but if I speak up too much there's a one man layoff.

    We all have to decide if we are willing to stand up for our rights many times a day.

    I have two children in college so I understand about responsibilities. They also know that a man is not a piece of fruit.

    I believe most people understand sound business decisions and can accept them. I know when the job is over I'm going back to the hall. That said I have seen bosses screw employees just because they can. The sooner that type of boss or HR person fears for their life the better the general working conditions will be. Word gets around if you know what I mean.

    I am just a whore. The IBEW is the pimp. The contractor is the john. I still have my standards. :}

  • A friend of mine was once working for a dying high tech company, but they were still paying him. (I think they were going for the high tech company equivalent of a hail mary pass.) My friend had gotten a job offer from an outside company, but he was covered by a no-compete clause, and this other company was a direct competitor. The HR people said that if he left and took that job, they'd sue him and almost certainly win. He was trapped and going nuts. Then, a few weeks later, an HR guy dropped by his office with some good news and told him the company was broke, and he wasn't going to get paid past Friday. My friend started work at the other company the next Monday and never looked back.

  • I used to work at my dream job, I did film (art) restoration. Taking old movies from forty or more years ago and making new copies from it. I was an amazing job. I loved all of it. Getting to watch movies at work; working with crazy chemicals like a mad scientist; learning a craft; and watching stuff from The Academy and from the major studios that no one had seen in years. I loved it. Then my boss through his own failures (giving an STD to our studio rep, and being so bad at business that it would take him three hours to write a form email, etc) stopped being able to pay us. He would leave for lunch on payday and not return to the office until the next week. He would just skip the part where he would sign and hand out the paychecks.
    When asked he would make a huge show of having forgotten about it and tell us that he could pay us the next week. This started to become like clockwork, payday would equal no payday, again and again. Eventually I had had enough and pressured him to write me a personal check to cover my expenses because my rent was due. He wrote me a partial check and said he would cover the rest later, which he never did. The next payday he once again couldn't/wouldn't pay us, and that is that last I know about that place, because I didn't go back, and even though I don't get to do what I love, I get to pay my rent. And I like that.

  • ladiesbane Says:
    March 5th, 2012 at 2:45 am

    "If you work, you *might* get paid.
    If you don't work, you sure as hell will not be paid.
    If you quit, you may not have a great case to be awarded unemployment. It depends on the state.
    If you quit, at least without another job lined up, you have given up hope. Jobs don't grow on trees."

    In tenant law, there's something called 'constructive eviction'. If the housing unit doesn't have heat, water, electricity (due to the landlord's fault), then the landlord can be treated as if he's trying to evict the tenant.

    There's likely something similar in employment law – see a lawyer!

    Also, if somebody's showing up for work, they can make sure that the work product is only delivered upon payment.

  • Check if your friends live in Massachusetts. Here in the Bluest of States it is a felony to not pay your employees. That's right. A felony. And the Head Guys are the ones that go to jail.

  • Chris, the "soulless drone" who you call "a snatch" has a job to do, the least pleasant part of which includes firing psychotic assholes. They are out there, and someone has to fire them. Based on what you've written so far, I feel pretty safe in assuming that you are one of them.

    Perhaps I'm wrong, in which case you should brush off my opinions, being, as they are, just the writings of some dude on the internet. On the other hand, if you can't stand that someone on the internet thinks poorly of you, and you find yourself wishing that you could stand menacingly over me until I left the room, that seems like more evidence that I'm entirely correct about you.

  • I'll go ahead and clear the air here. I viewed slang terms for female genitals as equal to that as men. I sometimes have called a woman that sucks a "snatch" and a man that sucks a "prick". I like to use crude words sometimes, and sometimes these words represent body parts. I didn't think about these terms meaning something beyond this, which was my mistake.

    I understand that women have been oppressed in the past and the playing field isn't 100% equal yet, and I should have known better that a woman could view a slang term for female anatomy as degrading/oppressive. It truly was not my intention to offend women, and I apologize to any woman I offended. I take a lot of pride in being compassionate and kind, and from here on out I'm going to equally refrain from using slang terms for genitals to refer to both males and females.

    I strongly dislike the management from the place I worked before, and it has nothing to do with gender. It sucks to be stuck at a shit job, be fired, and to have zero power in the workplace. People may not like my actions during this event, but this is just where we are going to agree to disagree. I've said it before and I'll say it again: one rough day is not close to enough evidence to judge a person, and if a women isn't a member of management where I work, chances are I respect them the way I respect all people.

  • Chris,

    Your last post makes you sound like waaaay less of a psychotic asshole than your earlier posts, and I'll retract my earlier statements.

    I still think you might be making a bit of a false equivalence between male- and female- genitia-based insults. Would you say to a male friend, in a casual social setting (say, a party) "don't be a dick!" Sure, and no one would bat an eye. Would you say to a female friend, in the same situation, "don't be a cunt!" Probably not.

    Why not? It clearly has nothing to do with being PC, we're talking about what you'd say among close friends, off the record. You wouldn't call your female friend a cunt because it's simply way, way, way more insulting than calling your male friend a dick. The terms "dick" and "cunt" are superficially symmetrical, but they have radically different meanings when used as insults.

  • My current employer takes great pride in how generous he is to his employees. Given that this extreme generosity is mostly summed up by giving each and every single thing that the law requires, most of us employes do think he's basically fair, but wouldn't really consider going for generous.

    Except one of my colleges. He thinks that our boss is a terrific employer. So one time I asked him why. His response was that it's because he pays on time every single month.
    Took me some short time to recover. The way I see it that isn't a sign of being a good employer, it's just the absolute bare minimum that doesn't even warrant a mention.

    Turns out that this guy worked once for a company that got into difficulties (apparently due to the somewhat shady choices of the boss), and kept working for a really long time when the company regularly didn't pay some months. Eventually he did leave after close to half a year with no payment.

    I really don't and can't get that. If I won't work, I don't expect to get paid. If I don't get paid, the company can't expect me to work. That's the basic deal, if I didn't have anything to do with the money then I'd have better things to do with my time than work…

    P.S. @Chris, are you serious?
    Since you told your boss that he was "worthless" and to "leave you the fuck alone", the only sensible thing for him to do was to fire you. There are very very few bosses who won't fire someone who insults them and talks to them with this level of rudeness, and quite rightly so.
    This is also why the only thing whoever HR sent out could have done, unless they then discovered the boss was wrong or lying about this, was to fire you. It's hard to see how you expected otherwise. Especially after you even told her to go ahead and fire you.
    So because the person from HR did what any sensible HR person would then do in that situation, you then felt the need to physically threaten her, and curse her.
    And this should show us all how your employers are the problem here, and not you? Really?? If this is the sort of work relations you had, and this is your workplace behavior, you probably weren't even a little bit surprised that you got fired.

  • I am one of those workers who is in this situation. This is what I learned. When your employer does not pay you on time once, even if the delay is two days, YOU MUST START DESPERATELY LOOK FOR ANOTHER JOB.

    It is hard. You should not quit in this economy because if you do your chances to find another job are about 5 times less. And to find a job in this economy is VERY HARD.

    It is also very hard to keep working at the job that does not pay you, then in the evening come home exhausted and demoralized and shoulder another reality of posting your CV and writing cover letters and receiving rejection and indifference of the job market. I have been there, I know. I found it impossible to give it my all to the job search while I have been employed and not-paid. I have been doing this search but it was not efficient much because I have not been giving it MY ALL. And it takes time.

    In a good economy it takes about 3 months to find a job (i am not even talking about dream jobs, just a job to cover bills). In this economy in US it takes about 6-9 months. So when your employer stopped paying you on time the first time, you had to start this search and go in overdrive….

    As for the rights? Standing up? Yes. But in this case you should walk out not only on your employer but on the whole US and immigrate to another country that has other rules. Because in US if you stand up for your rights and rightfully leave the job at the point of no pay, then you will be added to those millions and millions people without a hope. If you could walk out so rightfully on your bills also, then sure. Or if you are the one who has no property, no cars, no medical insurance, and you grow your own cucumber under the tree in a free park and eat it, then sure.

  • This was very interesting to read. There is not a lot of information regarding this situation online, surprisingly.

    I work for a non-profit and am going through this. First it was a few employees' bounced paychecks. The next payroll it happened again, including to myself. The next payroll, it happened again and to more checks…

    Last payroll, they withheld our checks and said they would release them as "soon as they had the funds". We are now starting week four of working without being paid (2-week pay periods). Next week another paycheck is due, yet they have no plan to pay the last one!

    The options seem to be: show up without pay. Quit and have a resume hole and no income at all. Hope they have the common sense to shut down and lay us off until funding returns (we can glean unemployment in the interim).. or keep showing up until we find new jobs (or they pay us…not likely), then file a complaint for "back owed wages" and wait months for the reimbursement.

    I am, thus far, going with the last option in hopes of getting a layoff so I can file for back wages AND glean unemployment. I have financial support from my family, though, to help me get by until then. Other coworkers of mine do not. It is so sad to see my colleagues bouncing checks, not having gas to come in, etc. – all because our CPO can't balance a budget or make the hard decisions to close a location and lay us off.

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